The new physical look of Ronald McDonald through McDonald’s attempt at rebranding may be one that’s going to be satirized to the hilt on every single late-night show. But there’s a serious edge to McDonald’s rebranding process many other companies and even small businesses will be studying. Rebranding is a very risky move so many companies are attempting to do today out of constant fear of being outdated and not relevant to the demographics they want to target. In some cases, those rebranding efforts get a little overzealous and end up looking ridiculous.
Whether you think Ronald McDonald going around in a red blazer and bow tie is going to attract more customers is all your own personal opinion. McDonalds’ thought may be that when you have a clown as a mascot, the more outrageous he should be. Then again, when you consider Ronald McDonald is a classic meme in familiarity, it could hurt McDonald’s even more.
It’s a new lesson to learn in corporate mascots and whether they should have any tweaking when dealing with the rebranding process. If you have a mascot you’ve been using for a long time, what should you do to update it? And should you make an attempt to place the mascot on social media as McDonald’s will do with Ronald McDonald?
Updating a Mascot
Not all business mascots are going to be human, and quite a few of them are anthropomorphic. For decades, many well-known companies and small businesses have used animals that take on a human guise to promote their business. Many times, businesses will have someone dress as their mascot and visit the business locations or other public gatherings to garner attention. Even on a local level, these mascots can sometimes bring a level of recognition at first glance without worrying about how outdated something looks.
The Maytag repairman, for instance, is a good example where only the actor portraying the character has changed. His outfit and general persona has remained the same based on a comfortable familiarity several generations of TV viewers remember. You can see evidence of how well this works through recent Maytag commercials cleverly using the new Maytag repairman impersonating household appliances.
It works the same with Ronald McDonald’s clothing, especially considering a jumpsuit doesn’t designate any particular time period. While having him wear a red blazer might be considered more of a standout to kids, it might look more outdated down the road than the jumpsuit ever did.
That’s why you should look at the clothing of your mascot and see just how timeless it is. Also, never underestimate the nostalgia factor in several generations growing up with a mascot if the clothing happens to represent a certain era. With many businesses using retro logos today, it’s not necessarily a wrong choice to keep retro clothing.
In the case of animal mascots, some of them have no clothing anyway other than perhaps a basic shirt with the logo of a business. These are timeless enough where you shouldn’t necessarily change them to look hip. Things looking out of time should always be considered carefully during a rebranding phase. It’s easy to be so desperate in capturing a certain demographic that you end up looking too hip and becoming quickly outdated within a few years.
Beyond this, what about updating a mascot to a point where you use them on social media?
Should a Mascot Go on Social Media?
With McDonald’s soon placing Ronald McDonald on places like Twitter, is it a new trend that all businesses should do with their mascots? Considering we’ve all conditioned ourselves to accept anthropomorphic characters on Twitter, it shouldn’t be surprising McDonald’s is doing this. We’re just lucky Ronald McDonald is still a human considering it seems nearly half of all Twitter users seem to be parody accounts of objects and even fictional characters.
We’ve already seen how witty some of those parody accounts can be. So you can expect Ronald McDonald to be the same way on social media, especially as a target to kids. The question is whether you should do the same with your own mascot as part of a rebranding plan.
If you do, be sure you hire someone who can make it clever and not have it backfire with inferior tweets. Perhaps hiring a comedy writer or at least someone experienced in witty social media comebacks can help if you have the mascot engage in conversation with random people.
This kind of cleverness may be the new dawn in rebranding, especially if it’s a mascot the public has grown up seeing since the day they were born. Having them on social media gives an intrigue that can pump new life into a brand that feels they need to do something new.